Today: May 28, 2024

Janet’s Animation Corner: Spinning Gold

Any self-respecting How to Train Your Dragon junkie will already know that Netflix have re-opened the doors to the island of Berk with a brand new instalment of the spin off series, this time entitled Dragons: Race To The Edge. Permission to weep with glee…or is it? As a founding member of Clan Dragon Enthusiast (hi my name is Janet and I’m a dragonaholic) I eagerly, yes a 27 year-old professional, eagerly settled down to watch the new series dying to know whether or not it would fix my craving for another movie. Six episodes in and my appetite for a third film has well and truly been whet. Shame I’ll have to wait until 2018. *Sob*.

However, while I did have the insatiable urge to keep clicking the ‘next episode’ tab it didn’t fully satisfy me in the way the films have. It wasn’t that some of the main character’s voices missed a beat – I got used to the change of actors in the first series – rather it was that sense of wonder you get with films, the grand nature of them. So I can’t help but wonder; if the point of the mini series isn’t to act as a replacement until the big screen version arrives what purpose do they serve?

This isn’t the first time Dreamworks have injected a mini series or two in our lives off of the back of a successful movie. Any one remember Monsters vs Aliens? Or probably the most popular ones would be Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. I don’t claim to know much about Monsters vs Aliens (it never really spoke to me) but the latter two’s cinematic versions had me, like much of the world, hooked. However while the respective Shrek and Kung Fu Panda series entertained me, they did not replace my desire for more big screen action, and I assume I am not alone in my thoughts. So why does Dreamworks keep churning out these series? I can’t possibly believe it’s just for the kids. How ridiculous. So let’s take a step back. Captivate us they must but what else do these short 20 minute bursts have to offer?

After a six and half episodes (I snuck in a cheeky 10 minutes in between writing – purely for research purposes of course) I did notice something in Dragons that seems to be a common thread across them all. Keen to know if I was on the right track I consulted an expert on the matter, my seven year-old nephew Leo. Unlike my daughter, Nayana, Leo’s thirst for more animatic action has never been quenched by just the movie. He revels in the extras and so I asked him what he liked about the latest Dragon’s add on. Big mistake, he reeled off a verbal essay about all the new dragons and what he’d learnt about them and what they could do and did you see this aunty Janet? Did you see that? Five minutes in to the hour long spiel, I did however confirm my hypothesis. It’s as basic as this: The primary function of these tag on shows isn’t to extend the story with a big razzle dazzle dance. It’s an opportunity to explore the world in more depth, to learn more about the universe in which the characters we love live in. It’s a chance to understand their lives fully so that when we sit down ready to devour the next 130 minutes or so of sheer filmic bliss we do so with the extra knowledge that helps give us a better understanding. Well duh, figured that out yourself did you smarty-pants? It’s not so much that I hadn’t kind of assumed this myself. I am a genius I’ll have you know. I just didn’t fully appreciate the value these Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, Dragonesk shows had to offer. Despite being drawn to them myself, I had always just dismissed these extra tag-on shows as just another quick moneymaking ploy. I’m not naïve, they probably are a nice quick way to spin straw in to gold but they do so with a justifiable purpose.

Blah, blah, blah enough said. Perhaps I should re-join the real world now. Start doing more respectable adult things like tidying the house, cooking a meal etc. etc. …Or I could make a start on episode seven because of course I couldn’t leave six just hanging …

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